Tagged: Center

OC HRONISS GRASU, OREGON

OC #55 HRONISS GRASU, OREGON

6’3” – 297 lbs. – 5.15e

Redshirted in 2010; started every game in each of the following seasons and will enter his senior year having started forty games. Combination of height and weight is adequate for the center position, although his frame looks nearly maxed-out; arms look a bit short. Stronger than he looks, with the ability to anchor against nose tackles and generate push in the running game; dominated massive Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton as a junior. Rarely requires additional help from offensive guards. Does a good job of keeping his feet churning after initial contact. Aggressive, even if he doesn’t end many plays with pancakes. Works hard to sustain until the whistle; has a strong grip which allows him to lock onto opponents. Gets good arm extension. Assignment-sound in pass protection, blocking the appropriate player and switching when necessary. Durable, pro-ready, and intelligent. Makes all of the protection calls. Reliable, experienced shotgun-snapper. Not a freak athlete, but is athletic enough to get out in front of screens, with a great work rate. Looks more comfortable when he’s asked to make second-level blocks on linebackers without pulling; straight-line speed is above-average. Ultimately, should be able to fit into either a man or zone blocking scheme. Height gives him natural leverage, but occasionally squanders it by getting too upright. Hands find their way outside too frequently. A bit more comfortable versus the bull rush than against quicker, gap-shooting defensive tackles; susceptible to penetration to either side. Lacks a forceful punch to jolt defenders. Hasn’t played any other positions, limiting his appeal as a potential swing reserve. Should certainly be considered a candidate to be the first center selected in this year’s draft, given his highly-productive, highly-experienced collegiate career; was given some difficult assignments with the Ducks and performed admirably. Not the biggest or most mobile center, but is close to a finished product and has shown that he is capable of holding up against powerful nose tackles without help, something which allows for rare flexibility in blocking schemes; additionally, his high football IQ allows him to execute his assignments even without outstanding athleticism. Projects as a starting pivot in the pros.

Games watched: Oregon St. (’13), Stanford (’13), Washington (’13)

OC KHALIL WILKES, STANFORD

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6’3” – 286 lbs. – 5.15e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 6 GP / 0 GS (OC)
2011: 4 GP / 0 GS
2012: 14 GP / 12 GS (LG)
2013: (OC)

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then appeared in a reserve capacity in ten games over the following two seasons. Started at left guard in 2012, then transitioned to center in 2013 following former left tackle David Yankey’s slide inside, earning second-team all-conference honors at the pivot.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having started over each of the past two seasons for a premier program.
•    Versatility, having started for one season at left guard and one at center, adds to value.
•    Height is adequate for the position, looks like he may be a bit thicker than listed weight.
•    Time spent in Stanford’s man blocking scheme will help answer questions about size.
•    Anchors pretty well, especially given that he’s considered a bit smaller than average.
•    Works hard to sustain blocks, exhibits a strong grip and will play through the whistle.
•    Has been asked to pull and get out in front for screens; does an adequate job there.
•    Awareness in pass protection looks sound, consistently identifies someone to block.
•    Regarded as one of the funniest players in Stanford’s locker room, should fit in well.

NEGATIVES:

•    Is undersized for a pro center, even more undersized for a potential guard conversion.
•    Capable of getting to the second level but isn’t very mobile for an player well under 300.
•    Not someone who drives defenders back on rushing downs, more of a wall-off blocker.
•    Hands tend to get outside a little too frequently, could be called for holding fairly often.
•    Initial punch has little to no effectiveness at disrupting opponents; must add strength.
•    Ends up on the ground more often than he should, usually because of balance issues.
•    Killer instinct isn’t really there, or at least doesn’t usually have an opportunity to finish.
•    Hasn’t been asked to pull much in the run game, fairly simple blocking assignments.

SUMMARY:

A two-year starter who lacks ideal size but nonetheless functioned as a consistent pass protector and adequate run blocker, Wilkes’ versatility and time spent playing at one of the most prestigious college football programs over the past couple of seasons should earn him some consideration from pro teams, as he works hard to sustain blocks and should be able to ease concerns about his schematic versatility by virtue of having played in a power blocking scheme during his college career. At this point, his lack of bulk may suggest a zone-blocking candidate, but actually he seems a safer bet as a developmental inline reserve who may benefit from a pro strength program, although his build may already lack substantial room for growth.

OC JAMES STONE, TENNESSEE

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6’3” – 291 lbs. – 5.30e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 12 GP / 8 GS (5 OC/3 LG)
2011: 9 GP / 7 GS (OC)
2012: 12 GP / 12 GS
2013: 12 GP / 12 GS (11 OC/1 LG)

OVERVIEW:

Started eight of twelve games played in 2010, originally working as a left guard but eventually converting to center, the position he played for the rest of his career, aside from one games in 2013. Started seven of nine games in 2011, then all twelve in each of the two following seasons.

POSITIVES:

•    Will be graduating having started for most of the past four seasons at a major program.
•    Height is consistent with pro centers; weighed significantly more (307) at Shrine Game.
•    Versatility between center and guard will help stock for teams seeking swing reserves.
•    Handles power well, demonstrates a sound anchor when asked to protect the passer.
•    Pretty good arm extension, especially as pass blocker, keeps defenders out of pads.
•    Adequate lateral agility, shuffle looks technically sound, can mirror opposing tackles.
•    Has been asked to pull for screens on occasion, does an adequate job in that role.
•    Makes up for his lack of dominant plays with consistency; usually gets the job done.

NEGATIVES:

•    Overall strength, athleticism are both mediocre, doesn’t have a clear-cut scheme fit.
•    Not particularly mobile for his size, may be better off playing at his Shrine Game weight.
•    Certainly not a mauler, is considered successful when he walls off/seals on run plays.
•    Doesn’t have the greatest grip strength, average ability to sustain blocks in run game.
•    Struggles to secure blocks at the second level, can get there but often overruns target.
•    Uses different hands for his regular and shotgun snaps, unorthodox to say the least.

OVERVIEW:

Stone played in Tennessee’s offensive system, which favors man/inline blocking concepts, but his official height and weight seem to suggest a zone-blocking candidate. In fact, while he doesn’t have the requisite mobility for the latter system, that he weighed in well over 300 pounds at the East-West Shrine Game should help reassure power blocking schemes that he is big enough to hold up in their system, especially when considered alongside his play in Tennessee’s. Stone should be considered something of a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none as a prospect: he anchors well in pass protection and is capable of sealing holes in the run game; however, he isn’t particularly mobile, and, perhaps more concerning, doesn’t get great push in the run game. Stone’s extensive starting experience and overall reliability in the SEC should earn him late-round consideration as a developmental backup center or swing reserve.

OC WESTON RICHBURG, COLORADO ST.

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6’4” – 300 lbs. – 5.15e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 12 GP / 12 GS (9 OC, 3 OG)
2011: 12 GP / 12 GS (10 OC, 2 OT)
2012: 12 GP / 12 GS (OC)
2013: 14 GP / 14 GS

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then started all twelve games in 2010, the first three at guard and the nine following them at center. Appeared in all twelve games again as a sophomore, ten at center and two at offensive tackle. Started every game at center as a junior and as a senior, earning all-conference first-team honors as a senior.

POSITIVES:

•    Started all fifty games the Rams played over the past four years, forty-five at center.
•    Possesses prototypical height for a pro center prospect, with above-average weight.
•    Reliable player who has posted consistently-high grades, avoids committing penalties.
•    Moves very well for a center of his size, wouldn’t be out-of-place in a zone scheme.
•    Regularly asked to pull, secure hook blocks, or get out in front to block for screens.
•    Aggressive player; plays through the whistle, keeps feet moving, flashes a killer instinct.
•    Has a strong initial punch, can knock defenders off-balance or to the ground at times.
•    Has a bit of experience at offensive guard (three starts) and at offensive tackle (two.)
•    Displays a sound anchor in pass protection, capable of holding his ground vs. power.

NEGATIVES:

•    Didn’t play in one of the NCAA’s premier conferences, will face leap in competition.
•    Not really a dominant drive blocker, gets the job done but doesn’t maul consistently.
•    Still has a little bit of room for improvement in terms of awareness in pass protection.
•    Ends up on the ground occasionally, usually as a result of being overly aggressive.
•    Also ends up running past second-level targets at times, could be a bit more patient.

SUMMARY:

Richburg should ultimately end up as one of the top centers drafted this season, possessing an impressive combination of size, experience, mobility, and aggressiveness which make him a strong candidate to start at the next level. He should appeal to teams running both man-and-zone-blocking schemes, with perhaps his best fit coming in the latter due to his ability to pull effectively, or get to the second level and secure blocks on linebackers. He is not a dominant run blocker or pass protector, but he is not limited by a lack of size or of athleticism, and should benefit from some time in a pro strength program upon entering the league.

OC BRYAN STORK, FLORIDA ST.

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6’4” – 300 lbs. – 5.05e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 10 GP / 4 GS (RG)
2011: 11 GP / 10 GS (8 OC, 2 LG)
2012: 13 GP / 13 GS (OC)

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. Started ten of twelve games played in 2011, with two starts at left guard before transitioning to center. Prepared to play tackle in the spring prior to his redshirt junior year, but ended up starting all thirteen games at center instead. Started all but the West Virginia contest as a senior, winning the Rimington Award, representing recognition as the nation’s top center.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate with over three years of starting experience for a major college program.
•    Possesses prototypical height for a pro center prospect, with relatively long limbs.
•    Made six starts at offensive guard (four on the left, two on the right), practiced at tackle.
•    Moves well, has regularly been asked to slide block, to pull, and to reach linebackers.
•    Keeps his feet moving on contact in the run game, is capable of driving defenders back.
•    Has the raw physical tools (length, agility) to develop into a quality pass protector.
•    Aggressive player, works through the whistle, will seek out a second man if possible.
•    Dedicated in weight room (award in 2011), should benefit from a pro strength program.

NEGATIVES:

•    Has a bit of a top-heavy build, lower body appears underdeveloped relative to upper.
•    Tends to lower his helmet while engaged, must keep his head up more consistently.
•    Needs to be more consistent with weight distribution; bends at the waist fairly often.
•    Ends up on the ground fairly often due to a combination of the two previous notes.
•    Doesn’t anchor very well against power in pass protection, can be walked backwards.
•    Missed a bit of time due to injury or illness, appearing in every game just once (2012.)

SUMMARY:

Stork may not have started for quite as long as some of the other centers in the class, with his most visible technique issue being the frequency with which he lowers his head into contact; additionally, he has a thin lower body which makes it difficult for him to anchor versus power. However, as a developmental center he possesses a desirable combination of height/length, mobility, and aggressiveness, and could become considerably better with further strength work/coaching. He doesn’t look like an instant starter, but zone-blocking teams in particular should consider him an intriguing developmental option who’s made encouraging progress.

OC TYLER LARSEN, UTAH ST.

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6’4” – 312 lbs. – 5.30e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 12 GP / 12 GS (OC)
2011: 13 GP / 13 GS
2012: 13 GP / 13 GS
2013: 13 GP / 13 GS

OVERVIEW:

Injured his knee two games into the 2009 season, earning a medical redshirt. Started all twelve games in the following year, making offensive line calls. Started all thirteen in each of the next three seasons, earning first-team All-WAC honors in 2011 and 2012, as well as first-team All-MWC honors in 2013, as well as academic All-WAC recognition in 2012.

POSITIVES:

•    Was forced to redshirt in 2009 but then went on to start fifty-one straight games.
•    Decorated college career who was a first-team all-conference selection three times.
•    Possesses an ideal combination of height and bulk for an interior offensive lineman.
•    Has made all of the offensive line calls for the Aggies since his redshirt freshman year.
•    Gets good arm extension, rather than letting opposing defensive linemen into his pads.
•    Anchors pretty well in pass protection, looks like he will be able to handle nose tackles.
•    Awareness as a pass blocker is also impressive, correctly identifies his assignments.
•    Overall balance/weight distribution looks good, doesn’t bend much at the waist.

NEGATIVES:

•    Played in various games against major programs but isn’t from a major conference.
•    Missed his true freshman campaign after sustaining a season-ending knee injury.
•    Not an outstanding athlete, projects more naturally to an inline/power blocking scheme.
•    Consequently, hasn’t been asked to pull or get to the second level on many occasions.
•    Lateral agility in pass protection is only adequate, can struggle against speed inside.
•    Despite his size/bulk, is not a dominant drive blocker and must improve his strength.
•    Gets a bit chippy at times but doesn’t always continue working through the whistle.

SUMMARY:

Considering the lack of quality centers relative to the number of NFL teams, a big four-year starter such as Larsen who can handle power in pass protection and who made the line calls over each of his college seasons should draw early third-day interest from teams looking for a responsible inline center. At this point, he is better in pass protection than as a run blocker despite his size, with athletic limitations which will likely rule out many of the league’s zone-blocking teams. A high-floor, low-ceiling player who could end up as a competent starter.

OC TRAVIS SWANSON, ARKANSAS

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6’5” – 315 lbs. – 5.20e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2009: Redshirt
2010: 13 GP / 13 GS (C)
2011: 13 GP / 13 GS (C)
2012: 12 GP / 12 GS (C)

OVERVIEW:

Redshirted in 2009, then took over as Arkansas’ starting center in 2010, starting all thirteen contests. Since assuming the starting role, has not missed a game. Was named a team captain and second-team All-SEC selection in 2012.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate with four seasons of quality SEC starting experience for a major program.
•    Durable player who has never missed a game over four years in the starting lineup.
•    Possesses prototypical height, weight, and length for a professional center prospect.
•    Generally does a good job anchoring against power/bull-rushers in pass protection.
•    Sustains his blocks well due to good grip strength; rarely ends up falling off of his man.
•    Not a mauler but does get a little bit of push as a run blocker, has a good work ethic.
•    Can knock opponents off-balance with his initial punch, sudden with good extension.
•    Reliable, consistent shotgun snapper with plenty of experience doing so at Arkansas.
•    Respected in the locker room; was named one of the Razorbacks’ team captains in 2012.

NEGATIVES:

•    Occasionally gets caught overextending and bending at the waist in pass protection.
•    Typically demonstrates decent awareness in pass protection, but can be fooled at times.
•    Reasonably athletic for his size but isn’t usually asked to secure second-level blocks.
•    Guilty of targeting an opponent’s knees when he’s losing, which could lead to penalties.
•    Probably a finished product at this point given his four years of starting experience.

SUMMARY:

By virtue of his combination of size and extensive SEC starting experience, teams should consider Swanson a potential starter at the professional level. He anchors well in pass protection, is a respectable if not dominant run defender, and generally can be counted on to sustain his blocks through the play. At this point, what you see is likely what you’ll get, but he has been tested against some of the best defensive tackles in college football without looking out of place, giving teams some peace-of-mind regarding his ability to hold up against pro talent at the next level. RD 2